Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites
 
Fall 2012           

Dear Junior Rangers,
Our Growing Up Wild series continues with a focus on Georgia wildlife that grows up underground.  This includes the Eastern Chipmunk,  the Cool Critter pictured in the Summer Issue of The Georgia Junior Ranger
My backyard is home to lots of chipmunks!   I enjoy watching them scurry from place to place, disappearing into their tunnels in the pine straw if I get too close.
Cindy Reittinger
Chief Naturalist, Georgia State Parks

Also in this Issue:
* Cool Critter Contest
* Ask the Naturalist
* Things to Do
* Read More About It
* Wow!

* Outdoor Fun

Cool Critter

Can you identify this cool Georgia critter? Correctly identify this animal by November 15th and be entered to win a free Park Pass - good for free admission to all Georgia State Parks for a whole year!  Email your answer to the Chief Naturalist.

Don't forget to include your first name and your age.


Ask the Naturalist
Have a question about nature?  Junior Rangers can submit their questions to the Chief Naturalist.

Dear Chief Naturalist,
I have watched an eastern tent caterpillar make a cocoon and I have been wondering how do they produce silk out of their mouth? 
                          Hayley,
                         Ellenwood, Georgia



D
ear Hayley,
You an
d I have salivary glands that our body uses to make the saliva in our mouth.  In caterpillars the salivary glands are modified to produce a fluid that hardens into silk threads when it hits the air.  Some caterpillars use the silk threads to spin their own individual cocoon.  Tent caterpillars wind it around twigs to make their silken web.


Wow!
Underground View

Junior Rangers at Little Ocmulgee State Park experienced a rare treat this summer.  They were able to view life in a gopher tortoise burrow using a special underground camera.

Read & Learn More

Visit your local library and check out these titles:

* Baby Chipmunks by Bobbie Kalman
* Groundhogs: Woodchucks, Marmots and Whistle Pigs by Adele Richardson
* Animals Under Our Feet by Sindy McKay
* Underground Animals by Marie Racanelli
* Exploring Underground Habitats  by Margaret Yatsevitch Phinney



Photo credits:
Masthead and General Coffee State Park: Linda Patrick
Cool Critter: Cornell/All About Birds
Geocaching Gopher: Kim Hatcher
Wow: Liz Garrett


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Growing Up Underground
Many wild creatures in Georgia grow up in underground burrows - moles, gopher tortoises and chipmunks to name a few.


These newborn eastern moles will soon be covered with dark velvety fur.  Their shovel-like front paws are useful for digging underground tunnels. 

Georgia's Moles
The eastern mole is found all over the state and throughout the eastern 2/3 of the U.S.  They are the ones you are most likely to find in your backyard.  The curious looking star-nosed mole has a limited range occurring primarily along the coast.

Chipmunk Cheeks








The blind and hairless young chipmunk (pictured right) will look just like an adult in about two months.  Chipmunks have cheek pouches inside their mouth for storing food.  Sometimes they stuff so many seeds in their pouches that it looks like they have the mumps!  Eastern chipmunks live only in the northern half of of Georgia; you won't find any in the southeastern coastal plain.

Things To Do
* Watch the star-nosed mole underground and underwater - they can swim!
* Learn more about ground nesting yellow jackets.
* Listen to the chipmunk's alarm "chirps".  I frequently hear this alarm call in my backyard, but it took me a while to realize the sound was made by chipmunks.

Gopher Tortoise
Perhaps the most familiar underground dweller in Georgia is our state reptile, the gopher tortoise.  Their burrows which may be up to 40 feet deep provide a home for frogs, snakes and other animals - as well as baby gopher tortoises (pictured right).

Whistle Pigs?

Woodchucks, or groundhogs as they are commonly called, grow up in burrows underground.  They are found only in north Georgia.  Their habit of whistling when alarmed has earned them the nickname "whistle-pig".

Things To Do
* Go outside and look for underground burrows.  What lives in your part of the state - chipmunks or gopher tortoise?
* Learn about Georgia's most famous groundhog - General Beauregard Lee.
* Listen to a woodchuck and hear for yourself why it is called a whistle-pig.
Outdoor Fun
Cooler temperatures make fall an ideal time to enjoy the outdoors.  Visit a Georgia State Park or Historic Site soon and enjoy the many activities offered - here are just a few:

Geocaching Adventures

Chattachoochee Bend State Park - Nov. 3
Cloudland Canyon - weekends until Nov. 4
High Falls State Park - Nov. 10

Pioneer Harvest Festival
General Coffee State Park - Nov. 10

 


 
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